As 2016 comes to a close, we think it's a fitting moment to look back on a year that was filled with ups and downs, joys and heartbreak and, most importantly, seriously good food. San Francisco had a banner year as far as restaurant openings were concerned, as long-anticipated projects came to fruition, and brilliant newcomers burst on the scene. Here are our picks for the top 10 openings in San Francisco this year.
Leo's Oyster Bar. This stunner of a spot from the Big Night restaurant group started 2016 with a bang, complete with mid-century decadence, cravable cocktails, and a raw bar worth dreaming of. The gorgeous space sets a perfect setting for an epic power lunch for the ages.
Mister Jiu's. Chef Brandon Jew's Chinatown masterpiece has brought new life to a dynamic, storied neighborhood. His take on sumptuous Chinese banquet fare is elevated with house made ingredients, creative preparations, and a gorgeous reimagining of the Four Seas space. A roster of killer cocktails from Danny Louie has also made Mister Jiu's front bar one of our favorite spots for a drink in town.
In Situ. The new SFMOMA reopened to great fanfare, much of which was dedicated to heralding the arrival of Corey Lee's groundbreaking, brilliant new restaurant In Situ. The menu, which meticulously recreates famous dishes from chefs around the world, is a fine display of how imitation done right is absolutely an art form in its own right.
WesBurger 'N' More. WesBurger may win the prize for the go-to neighborhood restaurant the city didn't know it desperately needed — the family-friendly, '70sish style diner opened on Mission Street and quickly took on the presence of a beloved spot that had been there for ever. Wes Rowe's creative, addictively delicious brand of comfort food, centered around burgers, fried chicken, and tots, has undoubtedly risen to the top of must-eat lists around town.
Bellota. Spanish food got its due at Bellota, a stunning temple to tapas, paella, jamon, and more. Sample from five stunning versions of paella, feast on jamon iberico and croquetas rich with sea urchin, or keep it simple with some olives and manchego, true Spanish tapas bar style. Definitely wash it down with their selection of barrel-aged sherry and vermouth.
'aina. This brunch pop-up opened its brick-and-mortar in the Dogpatch and quickly found a packed restaurant daily, with diners crowding in for guava-filled malasadas, house made Spam musabi, and a melt-in-your-mouth take on loco moco. 'aina cemeneted San Franciscan's love affair with Hawaiian food, one which grew even deeper when they launched dinner service this fall.
Tartine Manufactory. At long last, Tartine got a big, beautiful sequel, keeping us all in country loaves on a much more regular basis. But The Manufactory has quickly become a destination restaurant in its own right, baked goods aside — with flavor-packed salads and sandwiches at lunch and a stunning new dinner spread, we would happily eat three meals a day in its airy environs.
Motze. As Tartine Bakery expanded, Bar Tartine's famed chefs Nick Balla and Courtney Burns opened their new project, a temprorary restaurant called Motze. They're using the space to showcase their love of Japanese cuisine and ingredients; their prix fixe dinner is a delicious, memorable steal, but we keep dreaming about their soul-warming rice bowls at lunch.
The Morris. Sommelier Paul Einbund dreamed up The Morris to be the kind of place he wanted to hang out on the regular — unsurprisingly, it's everything we want in a go-to restaurant, too. From playful, delicious fare like foie gras dumplings and smoked duck to a jaw-dropping wine and spirits list, The Morris is exactly where we want to go for a celebratory dinner or a quick drink and a bite at the bar.
SingleThread. This farm-restaurant-inn opened at the beginning of December in Healdsburg, but still gets credit for being the biggest opening in the San Francisco Bay Area at large. The ambitious project comes from husband-and-wife team Kyle and Katina Connaughton — he's a chef, she's a farmer, and their stunning, 11-course menu centers around the incredibly close relationship between restaurant and farm.